The main two Corfu saints are Saint Spyridon, the patron saint of Corfu who saved the island four times from disaster, and Saint Theodora Augusta.
Saint Spyridon is Corfu’s beloved patron saint. He is celebrated on feast days and venerated throughout the year. Corfiots pray to him in times of need, and half the men on the island are named Spiros in his honour.
Spyridon was born in the mountains of Cyprus around 260 AD. He spent his early years as a shepherd, married, and had a child. When his wife died, he dedicated his daughter to the Church and joined a monastery.
As a monk, Spyridon’s devout faith earned him great esteem. He became a bishop and took part in the Council of Nicea, which debated the doctrine of the Trinity. Spyridon gave a miraculous demonstration by throwing an earthen brick to the ground, where it spurted fire and water – three elements in one.
Spyridon performed many minor miracles until, in his nineties, he died in 350. When sweet odours began rising from his grave – some say it also sprouted red roses – his body was exhumed and found perfectly preserved, strengthening the legend of his holy powers.
In the late 7th century Saracens invaded Cyprus and Spyridon’s remains were moved to Constantinople. Before the capital fell to the Turks in 1453, his relics and those of Saint Theodora Augusta were smuggled out by a wealthy priest who packed them in sacks, strapped them to a mule, and brought them to Corfu. Here the saint’s miraculous intervention saved the island from disaster no less than four times.
Saint Theodora Augusta, Corfu’s second beloved saint, was born in Asia Minor in the early 9th century and became the wife of the Emperor Theophilos.
At that time the Orthodox world was deeply divided over the issue of venerating icons. She re-established this practice at a ceremony at Ayia Sofia Cathedral in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 843 AD, for which she was made a saint after her death. She is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent, when her casket is paraded through the streets.
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